Ever feel like you're doing all the right things at the gym and you're still not able to see results? This is the post for you!
With the fitness and health craze ramping up so much since the birth of Instagram gym selfies, women are flogging themselves day in and day out to get those ripped abs and that oh so trendy (and totally unrealistic) thigh gap. Let’s be honest for a minute… have you looked at a Kim Kardashian selfie and thought ‘dayuuuum, check out that body’... because I have. Not before giving myself a mental slap across the face. THAT IS NOT REAL.
The only people that thigh gaps, an insane waist to hip ratio and abs all in one are Victoria Secret models, the Kardashians and 16 year old girls who are still going through puberty. These are not normal physical attributes for women of reproductive age!
Anyway, all things aside, I wanted to remind you that your female body is an incredible and beautifully complex being and you have to respect it if you want to feel well and balanced. We’re often encouraged to follow masculine regimes, how we work, the way we negotiate, the hours we do and most significantly (for this post anyway), how we MOVE.
Here’s the thing, unlike men, women have 4 stages to their menstrual cycle, which dictate their hormones and in turn, their mood, energy levels, water retention, weight, skin health, sleep patterns and ability to exercise.
This is why it’s so important to tap into your cycle and understand what is the most appropriate form of movement to benefit you at any given time. For example, smashing yourself at HIIT session while you’re menstruating is counterproductive and can have a huge impact on how your body recovers for your next cycle.
Likewise, you can totally optimise those periods in your cycle when you feel sassy, sexy and energetic. Midway through, around ovulation (day 14) is when you want to be pushing your physical limits and really gunning it at the gym.
Here’s how you can balance your cycle according to your menstrual cycles.
The Four Stages of your cycle:
Stage One: Menstrual phase (3-7 days)
This is the stage where you want to be doing restorative practices. You’re bleeding and that alone takes enough energy from your body. Focus on yin yoga, walking, stretching and REST. Pushing yourself during this phase will only deplete your body and encourage you to store fat in areas you don’t want it.
Stage Two: Follicular phase (7-10 days)
This is the stage when you’re feeling fresh, like you’ve come out of a long hibernation and your oestrogen is increasing. I liken it to when the sun has opened up after a big flood of rain and you have that elated feeling. This is the time where you want to be social, try new gym classes, go for long runs outdoors and move your body in new ways.
Stage Three: Ovulation phase (3-5 days)
This is the time to totally OWN your body. Ever noticed you can feel so much more attractive, confident and sexy in the middle of your cycle? It’s not a coincidence. It’s science! Your body's a super attractor right now and you’re primed for love making. So high energy workouts like boxing, HIIT, running and cardio sessions are a great way to utilise this burst of energy. Plenty of sex is good too, just be super careful with contraception if you don’t want to make a baby!
Stage Four: Luteal phase (10-14 days)
The Luteal phase is when you’ll find strength you didn’t know you had. Your body is preparing itself for a menstruation. Progesterone, oestrogen and testosterone gradually rise to their peak. Your uterine lining is thickening. You’re super woman. Resistance and weights are your friend. A few days prior to menstruation, gradually reduce all exercise as your hormones drop dramatically right before you start to bleed… this is where you’ll do best leaning into yoga, walking and rest.
So beautiful, I hope this has helped. I dive into this far more deeply in my clinic consultations but this really is a great place to start honouring your hormones.